Central Sulawesi Lakes | WWF

Central Sulawesi Lakes

Bentenan, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
© WWF / Tantyo BANGUN

About the Area

The volcanic and tectonic activities which created the Sulawesi island left in its wake a network of streams and ravines, along with the massive rifts and craters that later became rivers, lakes, and upland plains. Covering 68,089 sq km, Central Sulawesi is the largest Sulawesi's 5 provinces.

The old, isolated lakes of Central Sulawesi host a very distinctive and highly endemic biota. Lake Matano, the deepest lake in Southeast Asia and the eighth deepest in the world, is also a part of this ecoregion. There are several groups of fishes, crabs, prawns, and mollusks that are a product of species radiations.

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1,104.6 sq. km (lake area)

Habitat type:
Small Lakes

Geographic Location:

Conservation Status:

Local Species

Approximately 60 endemic mollusks, over 25 endemic fish, 10 shrimps, and 3 crabs are known from the central Sulawesi lakes. The Matano-Towuti lake system alone harbours 20 fish, 12 mollusks, 1 endemic snake, and 7 plants. Lake Matano and the nearby lakes also support many rare aquatic plants, including floating ferns.

Species radiations have occurred in the following fish families: the Sailfin silversides (Telmatherinidae), Halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae), and Ricefishes (Adrianichthydae). Distinctive species include Matano ricefish (Oryzias matanensis), Matanna water snake (Enhydris matannensis), and an endemic Goby (Glossogobius matanensis).

Featured species

Matanna water snake (Enhydris matannensis)

This snake is generally small in length. It is a cylindrical, stout bodied snake with a moderately short tail. General adult length is 0.35 m. It can grow to a maximum of at least 0.49 metres.

Head is depressed and slightly distinct from neck. Eyes are small in size with vertically elliptical pupils. Nostrils are small, valvular, crescent shaped and located anterodorsally. Dorsal scales are smooth. Ventrals are rounded without keels. It is found in freshwater lowland streams near coast, irrigation canals and rice paddies. Feeds mainly on fish, frogs and tadpoles.

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Potential threats to the freshwater fauna include lakeshore nickel mining, commercial fishery development, species introductions, and the effects of human population growth.

WWF’s work

The Coral Triangle's Sulu and Sulawesi seas span the coastal and territorial waters of three nations and a major priority for WWF in the region is to foster the development of a coordinated tri-national conservation program, resulting in an integrated network of priority marine protected areas, as well as sea turtle and fisheries conservation activities. With offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, WWF is uniquely positioned to work with these nations to explore the most appropriate options for preserving their shared ocean resources.

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